Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
(Matthew 12:25-29 ESV)
The Pharisees claim that Jesus casted out demons by the power of Satan, the prince of demons, was ridiculous because any kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. So it would make no sense for Satan to cast out his own demons. He would only be hurting his own cause if that were the case.
Likewise, their suggestion was hypocritical because the Pharisees had followers (sons) who were casting out demons as well. If Jesus was casting out demons by Satan’s power the Pharisees disciples would have to be doing the same thing. Note that it is likely that the Pharisees followers did not actually cast out any demons – they only attempted to. We can tell this from Jesus’ comment about these sons being the Pharisees judges. In other words, the lack of success from these exorcists would condemn the Pharisees for being spiritually impotent.
Finally, Jesus explains that if He is successfully casting out Satan’s demons (which He was) that would mean that He had power over Satan (a strong man). And the only one with power over Satan is God Himself. So clearly the Pharisees had not thought through the validity of their comments.
Jesus proves that His power does not come from Satan and the Pharisees arguments are unfounded. Therefore Jesus’ power could only come from the Spirit of God. Which means that the kingdom of God must be in their very presence. That is, Jesus must be God. Here is another statement by Jesus in which He was telling His listeners that He was God.
Notice also that Jesus entered the strong man’s house and plunders his goods. Jesus captured human beings from the domain of Satan. Everyone of us, by nature, has Satan as our father [Ephesians 2:2]. It is only as the result of being born-again through faith and forgiveness that we are rescued from Satan and brought into God’s family [Ephesians 2:9-9; Colossians 1:13]
Only God could do such a thing. No one else is capable of overpowering Satan in order to rescue themselves. We need a Savior. God was that Savior in the form of Jesus Christ.
Throughout history many critics (including myself) have had it in their mind that they had the accurate conclusion about Jesus. Some claim He never existed. Others, such a Muslims, claim that Jesus never died on the cross. Others believe that Jesus never said He was God.
But none of these claims holds water. People cling to them because, just like the Pharisees, they don’t want to believe. They don’t want to swallow their pride. I understand. I was a rabid atheist who held many false beliefs about Jesus. Like the Pharisees, I hadn’t thought my beliefs through. When I finally did, they fell apart one by one in the face of physical, historical, and logical evidence.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.